KATCHATHEEVU ISLAND (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     1st April 2024        
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Context: Recently, the decades-old territorial and fishing rights dispute surrounding Katchatheevu Island has been reignited, as the Prime Minister of India has criticized the opposition for relinquishing the island to Sri Lanka, prompting a retaliatory response from the party.

Katchatheevu Island

  • About: It is a 163-acre uninhabited island administered by Sri Lanka.
  • Location: Between Neduntheevu, Sri Lanka and Rameswaram, India.
  • Background: In June 1974, an agreement was signed by the then Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka.
  • Issue: The main problem continues to grow as more fisherman move into the Sri Lankan sea area for illegal poaching. In 2010 the Sri Lankan government issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government saying the Indian court cannot nullify the 1974 agreement.

oThe agreement specifically delineated the boundary between the two nations in the historic waters spanning from Palk Strait to Adam's Bridge.

  • A Colonial Indian Island: Katchatheevu was once part of the Ramnad Zamindari. 

oThe Ramanathapuram principality (or Ramnad) was established in 1605 by the Nayak dynasty of Madurai. 

oIt consisted of 69 coastal villages and 11 islets, including Katchatheevu.

  • Importance of Kachatheevu: The island is important for fishing grounds used by fishers from both countries. 

oThe Indo-Sri Lankan agreement allows Indian fishermen to fish around Katchatheevu and to dry their nets on the island.